14 SES 17, Unfolding Dialogical Spaces: Place-based learning on contested territories with (young) adults under the aim of social sustainability
The symposium focuses on place-based learning activities that are implemented not on, but with (young) adults by means of participatory learning settings in the landscapes of contested territories—in Europe and beyond. Bringing empirical examples from South Africa, Finland and Germany to the fore, it seeks to provide answers for the following questions:
- Which settings of place-based and place-conscious teaching and learning for (young) adults - in particular, students - have proved to enhance participatory learning experiences and, through this, have allowed a dialogical space of learning to unfold?
- How does this relate to theoretical approaches and further conceptualisation of the field of adult education with regard to the issue of social sustainability?
Social sustainability is seen as one part of the three classical sustainability dimensions (economy, society and environment). Yet, in contrast to e.g. ecological sustainability approaches, it currently lacks more nuanced elaborations of its key characteristics and practical implications through an educational lens (see e.g. Ehrström 2016; Schreiber-Barsch & Mauch 2019).
Against this backdrop, the symposium pursues an encounter between three strands of theory. Firstly, theories on space that emphasise the understanding of social spatiality and of ‘making space’ (Löw 2016) in its duality of action and structural order/ing. Such social spatiality unfolds in urban, rurban (on the urban fringe) and rural places, representing the territorial locus of contested issues, temporalities (e.g. history), individual and/or collective interests and power dynamics. This, secondly, frames participatory learning. The issue of participation is raised, on the one hand, in its structural dimension through works on democracy as political architecture to ensure participation in society (qua participating in learning) (Young 2002; also spelled out i.e. in the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities). On the other hand, the pedagogical dimension of participation still often lacks educational transfer: „…in practice there has been an emphasis on design and the procedural within democratic innovation, while what is often lacking is detail on the pedagogy of learning” (Prosser et al. 2018, p. 213; emphasis in original). For such details, the symposium draws on Dewey’s works on educational philosophy (Dewey 1910, 1934), on concepts of creating dialogic spaces in education (Rule 2004, 2015), and on methodological frameworks in doing research. Thirdly, theoretical approaches to sustainability are brought together that merge the three sustainability dimensions, in order to put up for debate the understanding of adult education as sustainability, not for sustainability (thus, widening narrow concepts of merely teaching a rigid sustainability curriculum) (Seghezzo 2009).
This will be illuminated by starting at a historically highly contested place in the midst of Hamburg University’s main campus, the Carlebach Platz, which has become a venue for reflection and placed-based learning through, in this case, arts-based inquiry. This sets the scene for focussing on the method of Deliberative Walks (Ehrström & Raisio 2014) with the aim of increasing citizen participation and learning processes, which will be illustrated by examples implemented in Finland and South Africa. Finally, the symposium turns back to the University’s main campus, now as a place of learning for persons who are usually situated at the peripheries, be that institutions, societies or territories: adults with learning difficulties (also known as intellectual disabilities). Insight is given in a Participatory Research Workshop, providing an inclusive learning space for students and adults with learning difficulties.
These shall provide the symposium’s participants with knowledge on current research and on possibilities of how to unfold a dialogical space by means of educational endeavours with (young) adults under the auspices of social sustainability in the contested territories of today’s societies.
Dewey, J. (1910). How we think. Chicago, IL: D.C. Heath & Co. Dewey, J. (1934). Art as experience. New York, NY: Perigee. Ehrström, P. (2016). Transformation and Survival Strategy – Rural Gentrification and Social Sustainability. The Case of Sundom, Vaasa, Finland. In Andersson K. et al. (Eds.), Metropolitan Ruralities (pp. 125-158). London: Emerald Group Publishing. Ehrström, P., & Raisio, H. (2014). Deliberative Walks – A New Participatory Method for Urban Planning. Abstract. Deliberatiivisen Demokratian Instituutti, R&D Day 2014, (www.deliberaatio.org). Löw, M. (2016). The Sociology of Space: Materiality, Social Structures, and Action. New York: Palgrave Macmillan. Prosser, B., Flinders, M., Jennings, W., Renwick, A., Spada, P., Stoker, G., & Ghose, K. (2018). Pedagogy and deliberative democracy. Contemporary Politics, 24:2, 210-232. Rule, P. (2004). Dialogic spaces: adult education projects and social engagement. International Journal of Lifelong Education, 23:4, 319-334. Rule, P. (2015). Dialogue and Boundary Learning. Rotterdam: Sense. Schreiber-Barsch, S., & Mauch, W. (2019). Adult Learning and Education as a response to global challenges: fostering agents of social transformation and sustainability. International Review of Education, https://doi.org/10.1007/s11159-019-09781-6. Seghezzo, L. (2009). The five dimensions of sustainability. Environmental Politics, 4, 539-556. Young, I.M. (2002). Inclusion and Democracy. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
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